In Brief

Air Force chooses ITT Gilfillan for mobile air traffic control radar system, BMDO changes its name, PICMG sets heterogeneous CompactPCI multicomputing specification, MORE...

Mar 1st, 2002

Air Force chooses ITT Gilfillan for mobile air traffic control radar system
U.S. Air Force officials needed mobile precision-approach radar systems for their Mobile Approach Control System. They found their solution from ITT Gilfillan Defense and Electronics in Van Nuys, Calif. Officials at the Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., awarded a $13.3 million contract to ITT Gilfillan for five precision approach radars (PAR) for the Mobile Approach Control System — otherwise known as the MACS. The MACS is a day/night/all-weather mobile air traffic control (ATC) system that provides precision-approach radar, sequencing and separation of aircraft, navigation assistance, and airspace control for military and civil aircraft. It provides approach-control at where no ATC facilities exist or where existing ATC equipment is inoperative. ITT Gilfillan's digital precision-approach radar system provides azimuth, elevation, and range control on manned and unmanned fixed-wing aircraft as well as on helicopters. It can detect moving targets embedded in clutter, process at least six aircraft targets, generate no more than two false targets per radar scan, process radar data in 0.5 seconds, and operate when the antenna is in wind speeds as fast as 65 knots.


BMDO changes its name
The Pentagon's office in charge of ballistic missile defense is undergoing its third name change since its inception in the mid-1980s. The office, formerly the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) is now the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Elevating BMDO to agency status recognizes the national priority and mission emphasis on missile defense, Pentagon officials say. This Missile Defense Agency began its life as the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) in February 1986 to adminster then-President Ronald Reagan's ballistic missile defense plan then called the Strategic Defense Initiative — popularly known as "Star Wars." The new Missile Defense Agency re-emphasizes the commitment of President George W. Bush to missile defense and provides direction to meet the top four priorities for the United States. The current director of BMDO, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish, will assume the title of director, Missile Defense Agency. He will continue to report directly to Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge Jr., undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. MDA officials are to oversee development of the missile defense system and baseline the capability and configuration of its elements. The military departments will procure and provide for missile defense operations and support.


PICMG sets heterogeneous CompactPCI multicomputing specification
The PCI Industrial Computers Manufacturers Group — better known as PICMG — published the PICMG 2.14 CompactPCI Multicomputing Specification that defines packet-based communications between heterogeneous processors within a CompactPCI system. "The multicomputing specification specifies system topology and software mechanisms such that standard networking software run on boards from different vendors will interoperate with each other without modification by the end user," says Dick Somes, PICMG technical officer. For more information contact PICMG by phone at 781-246-9318, by fax at 781-224-1239, by e-mail at info@picmg.org, by post at c/o Virtual Inc., 401 Edgewater Place, Suite 500, Wakefield, Mass. 01880, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.picmg.org.


DRS to upgrade Canadian forces long-range infrared surveillance system
Officials at the Canadian Department of National Defense needed upgrade kits that make use of focal plane arrays (FPAs) for the Canadian forces' AN/TAS-502 Night Observation Device, Long Range (NODLR). They found their answer with technology from DRS Technologies in Parsippany, N.J. The kits will use third generation FPAs and associated electronic components, and are expected to double the range of current systems and improve their operation with increased reliability and noise reduction, DRS officials claim. The DRS-produced AN/UAR-501 thermal observation device is the heart of the NODLR system, with more than 300 of these devices currently fielded internationally, company officials say. The NODLR is for day/night ground surveillance operations, DRS officials say. The infrared system detects minute differences in temperature, creating TV-like images that distinguish targets in adverse weather or battlefield conditions. Immune to known countermeasures and not blinded by flares, searchlights or lasers, the NODLR can penetrate most natural and man-made obscurants to ensure operational effectiveness around the clock, company officials say. For more information contact DRS on the World Wide Web at http://www.drs.com.


Navy moves ahead on project to develop laser-based defenses against infrared guided missiles
U.S. Navy aviation experts are ready to move ahead with their project to develop a laser-based system to defend aircraft against infrared guided anti-aircraft missiles after a successful test last November. The U.S. Navy's Tactical Aircraft Directable Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM) system completed a major test Nov. 19 that confirms that the technology is ready for the next stage of development, say officials of the system's designer, BAE Systems Information and Electronic Warfare Systems division in Nashua, N.H. The program is researching the feasibility of a deployable infrared laser countermeasures capability aboard tactical aircraft. The test, conducted at the U.S. Naval Weapons Range at the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station near Ridgecrest, Calif., had TADIRCM on an unmanned remotely controlled version of an old U.S. Navy F-4 Phantom jet fighter flying at high speed over the China Lake range. Pursuing the drone were two Air Force F-15 fighters, one of which was equipped with the infrared air-to-air missile. The F-15 locked onto the target drone and fired its missile, BAE officials say.


Northrop Grumman to develop new radar for next-generation Hawkeye
Officials at the U.S. Navy recently chose Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector's Airborne Early Warning and Electronic Warfare (AEW & EW) Systems business unit to develop a new radar for the E-2C Hawkeye Radar Modernization Program (RMP). The radar work is part of a $49 million Pre-Systems Development and Demonstration (Pre-SD&D) contract, Northrop Grumman officials say. The Hawkeye 2000 radar system now in production will be replaced with a new, solid-state, electronically steered UHF radar, Northrop Grumman officials say. This next-generation Hawkeye will also have theater missile defense capabilities. Other improvements will include a tactical cockpit giving the co-pilot the capability to function as a fourth mission system operator; a new communications suite; new generators; improved identification friend or foe system; and an updated mission computer and software, company officials say.


Boeing to explore electric airplane
Officials at Boeing Commercial Airplanes recently announced that the company will develop and test an electrically powered demonstrator airplane as part of a study to evaluate environmentally friendly fuel cell technology for future Boeing products. The airplane manufacturer is working with Boeing's new Research and Technology Center in Madrid, Spain, to modify a small, single-engine airplane by replacing its engine with fuel cells and an electric motor that will turn a conventional propeller, Boeing officials say. Fuel cells and electric motors will not replace jet engines on commercial transports, but they could one day replace gas turbine auxiliary power units. Auxiliary power units, which typically are located in the rear fuselage with exhaust ports through the tail, are coupled to generators and compressors to produce electricity and air for airplane systems while on the ground and for backup use in flight. Fuel cells are inherently cleaner and quieter than auxiliary power units because they have few moving parts and generate more than twice as much electricity with the same amount of fuel. For more information contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes on the World Wide Web at http://www.boeing.com.

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